Article carrying MOE remarks on Singapore's 'culture of compliance' is fake news, says MOE

MOE said that a a series of comments appearing in an Australian magazine, purportedly made by its director-general of education, is fake news.
MOE said that a a series of comments appearing in an Australian magazine, purportedly made by its director-general of education, is fake news.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE -The Education Ministry (MOE) has decried as "fake news" a series of statements purportedly made by its director-general of education that attributed Singapore's educational success to "standardised test drilling and a culture of compliance".

On Monday (Aug 28), an article in the August edition of an Australian magazine, Australian Teacher Magazine, had made the rounds online.

It reproduced comments that MOE's director-general of education Wong Siew Hoong had purportedly made at the National Institute of Education's Redesigning Pedagogy conference in May (2017).

The article, written by a Walter Barbieri , claimed that Mr Wong had juxtaposed Singapore's stellar academic results in the 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) study conducted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) with the data on student well-being and innovation in t he economy, which placed Singapore in the lowest quartile.

Before over 1500 delegates, it wrote, Mr Wong said: "We've been winning the wrong race". He attributed Singapore's Pisa success to standardised test drilling and a culture of compliance, said the article, adding that he had remarked that Singapore is "building compliant students just as the jobs that value compliance are beginning to disappear".

The comments were then reproduced by community news site Mothership.sg. On Monday night (Aug 28), MOE clarified in a comment on Mothership's Facebook post about the story that Mr Wong had not made the statements quoted in the article.    

"This is fake news," said MOE. "We are disappointed that your website would circulate such false comments. We would appreciate it if you could remove the article immediately or at least print a correction."

The Straits Times is reaching out to Australian Teacher Magazine for comment.